BEVERLY HILLS, March 16, (THEWILL) – Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Charles Udo, has disclosed that the inability of successive governments to follow the drainage master plan was the source of the perennial flooding always experienced in Uyo metropolis.
Areas like IBB Way, Atiku Abubakar Way and Nsikak Eduok Avenue sometimes turned fatal as persons, especially children, got swept away by flood during rains.
Just last rainy season, two teenage sisters were swept away by flood even as their bodies were recovered a day later in the debris.
A baby boy, whose mother escaped by the whiskers, was swept away by flood during a heavy downpour in the night; the mother cried helplessly until the body was recovered the following morning.
The Commissioner, who made the disclosure, while fielding questions from newsmen in Uyo yesterday, also revealed that, most of the erosion and flooding prone areas in the metropolis were purely man-made, as most of the houses were built on water channels.
He said: “Unfortunately, the drainage master plan for Uyo was not followed in the past, so today we are building an 8.4 kilometres drainage that will take water from Atiku Abubakar up to the Secretariat roundabout, then link it up to the Women Development Centre along IBB Way, into Atan Offot up to the PDP Secretariat.
“That drainage, because of the volume of water around the areas, will carry 50,000 litres of water per second. That is what we are doing about the IBB flood project. We also sought emergency intervention around the Etim Umanah and Anua which is expected by August.
“There is something that I want us to learn here, that most of the environmental problems we are tackling in the state are man made problems.
“Blocking the drainage with debris, we are also planning to bring back days of sanitary inspection. These are the environmental officials whose business is to promote environmental health.”
Udoh explained that his ministry received a lot of complaints against noise pollution, stressing that, as the ministry continued in its sensitisation and awareness exercise, it would start to bring violators to book.
On mining business, the Commissioner agreed that it was on the Exclusive List, but warned that those with licence to operate must liaise with the ministry on how to carry out their operations.
He said: “Illegal sand and gravel mining are dangerous to our environment. When it comes to mining we are saying that if you are dredging on a river you cannot go lower than 150 meters close from the bank of the River to avoid triggering erosion and on land you must not dredge lower than 500meters from critical infrastructure.
“Sadly, today a case in point is between Eket and Onna where someone was arrested for dredging under the bridge. A bridge can collapse, environment devastated, because of dredging. Following the Law is what we are doing.”